My Mom Took Over My Dating Life — Here's What Happened

Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden

This story is about Summer, my sweet, heartwarming, love-loving mother. At 5'6" and [AGE REDACTED], she's still a natural blonde who believes in regular exercise, plant-based diets, and daily meditation. We're alike in our effervescent joy and propensity for fun. I get my optimistic glee from my mom and my fear of not doing my homework from my dad. We differ in that I grew up to live in a big city, work in a tall building, and pay big money for small closet space. She grew up to raise animals, teach Sunday school, and take great pleasure in spending time in nature. Summer is a kinder, more vulnerable, and more honest version of me, without such a harsh adult exoskeleton.

As many moms would be, she was thrilled at the notion of this takeover. You could practically hear her cracking her knuckles all the way in San Diego while she set up camp at the computer. Using her preferred dating platform,, she set about setting me up.

Dating App Profile

Here's how I describe myself on dating apps: "Equal parts Reese Witherspoon and Amy Schumer. 5'4"." That's it. A dear friend blessed me with this flattering description, and my circle of cohorts wholeheartedly agree on its accuracy. It's got plenty of context and applies to both looks and personality. Summer didn't hate it, but she wanted more, so here's what she added:

"My friends describe me as equal parts Reese Witherspoon and Amy Schumer. I'm living my dream life here in San Francisco. My work as a senior director in communications and public relations is thrilling and challenging and I love it. I enjoy people and so many of the activities going on here in the city. If you are outgoing, have a strong leadership personality, and know how to enjoy life, you just may be my prince charming."

Aside from the two promotions she handed me and the line about prince charming, it wasn't bad, but it was far more emphatic and revealing than I'd venture to be if this were all up to me. It wasn't, so I let Summer introduce me to a few folks.

My Mom's Openers

We agreed that she was in charge of selecting the guys and sending them an initial opener. If they responded, I'd take over the conversation and aim to set up a date. Overall, her introductions were really something. Here are a handful of my favorites:

  • "I love your name and the meaning of it. It feels like it fits you, do you love it?" (I took the liberty of googling his name, and it turns out there are two meanings. Depending on who you ask, it either means "powerful" or "blackness and sorrow." Luckily, his name was the first.)
  • "I like your profile. How did you ever get to hold a koala bear?" (This pick wasn't bad, and I'd actually already gone on a date with this guy about 18 months ago and ghosted him because he was too into sports. If you're reading this, koala guy, I'm very sorry for the confusion.)
  • "I do yoga both at home and at classes. Which do you prefer? Joy in this moment and always." (Literally, what? At first I was frustrated by this, but it's so her that I couldn't help but smile at it.)

She also had a couple renditions of profile flattery. Her strategy was to tell them she liked them without asking a question that might make them feel forced to engage. Instead, she left the ball in their court with statements like these:

  • "Enjoyed your profile. Check out mine, and if you feel a connection, I'd love to hear from you."
  • "I am enjoying my present moment reading your profile, very nice!"

After a while I asked her to cool it a little, and we settled on aiming for two-word openers like "Hey there" or "Happy Friday!" She wasn't keen on my ideas, but she stuck to shorter opening lines including:

  • "I like your sense of humor."
  • "You sound fun."
  • And my personal favorite, "I'm game."

Mom's Ranking of My Romantic Prospects

My mom likes to joke that if you're going to marry for the wrong reasons, marry for money because looks fade. So perhaps it's no surprise that she deprioritized aesthetics in favor of more lasting qualities, like professionalism and spiritual values.

The mother of an agnostic, gin-loving Netflix-watcher wanted her daughter to date Buddha.

This led to several conversations about dealbreakers, including the fact that just because she wants me to have a spiritual practice does not mean I should be dating someone with one. That was also true of other attributes, including vegetarianism, guys who don't drink, and even those who don't like TV.

That's right, the mother of an agnostic, gin-loving Netflix-watcher wanted her daughter to date Buddha. Things were not looking promising.

The Date My Mom Helped Set Up

During the course of this experiment, my mom picked out a handful of eligible suitors, all of whom were meditators with advanced degrees and professional jobs. A few of them were reasonably pleasant, and finally, after what I thought was way too much back and forth, one of them invited me to have . . . a phone call.

These men weren't my typical tech bros who'd invite me for a drink after four to six messages, engage in two to five dates, then we'd mutually ghost. But we're breaking molds here, so I agreed to this date via teleconference. Here's how that went down. The quotes are the words I said out loud, the parentheses are my thoughts along the way.

*Ring Ring*

Me: "Lisa Holden speaking!" (I'm a millennial, so I only use this feature of my phone for work purposes. I literally do not know how to answer a phone casually.)

Him: "Hey Lisa, it's GuyYourMomWantsYouToMarry, is now still a good time to chat?" (OK great, you're strangely formal on the phone, too.)

Me: "Yep! Great time to chat, I'm all yours!" (Honestly, I would never talk like this in person, why did I just invite this guy to . . . what? Have me? This is how you get taken.)

Him: "Cool, so, I guess the first thing I want to know is how you feel about dating? Are you dating lots of people or just one at a time? I ask because I want to find something real, and I think that's easier to do when you commit as soon as possible." (Sorry, did you just ask me to be exclusive ONE minute into this conference call? If so, I'm flattered, though I will definitely end up declining. But first, the people-pleaser in me will vaguely pretend I'm open to this for a while.)

And off we went, me chatting away about my theories on dating, how people have too many options out there to commit, and how someone who knows what they want is what I'm looking for, but too afraid to actually go for. He talked about what he likes to do and what lights him up, none of which overlapped with my interests. We ended the call after about 30 minutes and agreed to talk again soon. I was mortified I'd been so honest, so when he texted me asking about my passions, I sent him a link to my work right here on POPSUGAR. I've found it's a surefire way to make sure a guy doesn't want to see me again because they fear they're going to get written about. Spoiler: few of them are interesting enough to write about.

Then, shockingly, he responded. He said he wanted to learn more and included the following quote from Rumi, "Set your life on fire and seek out those who fan the flames."

I'm not proud of this, but I ghosted him.

Do I want someone who supports my creative endeavors? Of course I do. Did I have an iota of chemistry with this guy? Sadly, no. But I learned something important during this experiment about openness and intimacy. I never share my writing with guys I date because I'm afraid of scaring them off. What I learned is that not everyone is fearful of a woman who writes about love, and there are men out there with whom I could conceivably be myself. I ended up texting the guy a week later thanking him for the conversation and awesome quote, but gently saying I didn't see us as a match.

Final Thoughts

When I told my mom about it, her response was, "If you don't like him, do you think he's too young for me?" So as it turns out, Summer didn't find my soulmate, but maybe she wasn't really looking for me to begin with.

But as moms do, she taught me an important lesson. Hiding who you really are might feel safer in the dating world, but in the end, showcasing the truest parts of yourself on dates is a better way to go. Moving forward, I'll attempt to bring forth that honest, vulnerable side of myself that I get from Summer in the first place, and who knows, maybe I'll find someone who can deal with (or maybe even celebrates) dating a writer.

Lisa Holden